Etihad Airways Launches Codeshare And More With Israel’s El Al

Etihad and El Al have today announced the launch of their codesharing agreement today. As well as sharing codes on flights, the pair will indulge in reciprocal frequent flier benefits for passengers of both airlines. This builds on a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed in November last year.

Etihad 787
As well as codesharing, passengers will be able to earn and burn points across both airlines. Photo: Etihad

Codeshare is a go

The normalizing of relations between the UAE and Israel continues to benefit air travel. As increasing numbers of routes and airlines begin to emerge in the market, El Al has today taken its first step to close cooperation with a UAE airline.

Boutique UAE carrier Etihad has firmed up an agreement with the Israeli flag carrier to operate a joint codeshare agreement across the two airlines. It’s the first such agreement El Al has entered into with a UAE airline since the signing of the Abraham Accords last year. Initially signed on August 13th, the Accords represented the first public normalization of relations between an Arab country and Israel in decades.

In the months following the Abraham Accords, El Al led the charge to reinstate direct flights between the UAE and Israel. It began flying the route in early September,  establishing a cargo corridor soon after. But it was Etihad that landed the first passenger flight to Israel in mid-October, setting in place a trend that would see 28 weekly flights operating between the countries.

Etihad El Al codeshare
Due to COVID, the MOU had to be signed virtually. Photo: Etihad

In November, El Al and Etihad signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to cooperate more closely on flights, a signing that had to take place virtually due to the COVID situation. It was the first such cooperative agreement to be signed since the Accords took shape, and promised many benefits for passengers of both airlines.

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Details of the codeshare and other benefits

Today, that codeshare is officially launched, and will see Etihad placing its EY code on El Al flights to 14 destinations across the Middle East, Asia, Europe and the United States. Conversely, El Al will add its LY code to Etihad’s bi-weekly service between Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv. From August 1st, the codeshare is planned for expansion, to take in destinations beyond Etihad’s hub to destinations in Australia, Bahrain, India, Korea, Philippines and Seychelles.

Speaking on the partnership, Tony Douglas, Group Chief Executive Officer, Etihad Aviation Group, said,

“We are very pleased to be able to announce the launch of our codeshare and frequent flyer partnership with El Al. This partnership will provide additional choice and connectivity for both carriers’ guests, and a range of benefits for frequent travelers between and beyond our respective hubs in Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv.”

El Al Israel Airlines Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner 4X-EDC
The partnership is set to get even closer in the future. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

The airlines are allowing the transfer of frequent flier benefits across their partnership too. Members of the Etihad Guest and Matmid programs will be able to earn and redeem miles on flights across both carriers’ networks.

Avigal Soreq, Chief Executive Officer, EL AL Israel Airlines, said,

“This is the first commercial partnership that EL AL has established following the Abrahamic Accords.  This is an important milestone as this codeshare will bring growing benefits to our passengers and to our respective airlines and countries. The EL AL and Etihad teams have a common goal in this partnership, and we look forward to seeing it grow in the future.”

But the partnership is set to go even deeper in the future – the codeshare and reciprocal frequent flier benefits are just the start. The original MOU also included provisions to explore cooperation on MRO, on pilot and crew training, as well as on cargo operations. The two airlines are working to develop these elements, which could see them coming even closer in the near future.